EU: Microsoft $26 billion LinkedIn buy approved with light conditions

The European Union on Tuesday approved Microsoft’s $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, after the software giant agreed to safeguards to assuage antitrust concerns.

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, said it was clearing the deal on the condition that, postmerger, Microsoft allowed other professional networking sites access to programming commands for its Office applications and cloud-computing services for the next five years. It must also grant computer manufacturers the option not to install the LinkedIn shortcut on desktop devices, the EU said.

“A growing number of Europeans subscribe to professional social networks. Today’s decision ensures that Europeans will continue to enjoy a freedom of choice between professional social networks,” said EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager.

The concessions are mild. Microsoft already offers its Office Add-in program to professional social-networking services. Giving rivals access to its cloud-computing system could ultimately benefit Microsoft, because companies that took advantage of that system would use Microsoft products to do so. Moreover, LinkedIn has become the dominant professional social network without help from Microsoft’s desktop, counting 467 million members in its most recent quarter, up 18% from a year earlier.

Full Content: The Wall Street Journal

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